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Sickle Cell Disease in Central Florida; Sunshine State Mafia; Mike the Friendly Firefighter

Funding for Sickle Cell Disease Research

Sickle Cell Disease affects approximately 100,000 Americans, and the state of Florida records nearly 7,000 new cases every year. The symptoms are excruciating. With gripping details, Dr. Simone Uwan describes the crippling effects of this misunderstood but devastating diagnosis that stole much of her youth and cut her career short. The Orlando physician co-founded the non-profit Sickle Cell Medical Advocacy Inc. She joins Engage to share her story.

Florida House Representative Kelly Skidmore sponsored a bill that allocates 10 million dollars a year for Sickle Cell research and treatment. She joined Engage right after her bill passed with unanimous support in the Florida House to discuss why it's a priority for her.

WMFE Health Reporter Joe Mario Pedersen discusses a gene-editing treatment approved by the FDA in December and the potential impacts of advancements on Central Florida.

The Sunshine State Mafia: Organized Crime in Florida

Americans have long held a fascination with organized crime. Once crime syndicates operated in the shadows, but the advent of mass media brought the stories from old-country Sicilian mafioso to modern day Mexican drug cartels into pop culture. Florida holds a special place in mob lore; at one time isolated from the mainland culture of America yet in close proximity to islands beyond the reach of law enforcement. It started as a haven for gamblers and bootleggers and evolved. Doug Kelly, author of Sunshine State Mafia, discusses the rise and evolution of organized crime in Florida.

Mike the Friendly Firefighter Inspires and Encourages

Brittany Jones, a former television news anchor in Central Florida, wrote a children’s book as a love letter honoring her fallen fiancé, Jacksonville firefighter Mike Freeland. After dating several years, Mike and Brittany got engaged in October 2020, but the bride-to-be never got to walk down the aisle to say, “I do.” Mike Freeland died in the line of duty on Veterans Day 2021. His final actions saved a woman’s life. Brittany’s book series called “Mike the Friendly Firefighter” captures his spirit of helping others and inspires kids with positive lessons. Brittany joins Engage to share her story.

Cheryn joined WMFE after several years as a weekend news anchor at Spectrum News 13 in Orlando.